Grande America: 20 years after the Erika, history repeats itself!

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20 years after the wreck of the Erika and the terrible pollution caused to our coasts, we are again facing the devasting impacts of poorly regulated maritime transport practices!    

The Italian container ship, Grande America, caught fire and sank nearly 300km off the northern French Atlantic coast on 12 March and now Surfrider Foundation Europe, which has been involved in ocean protection for 29 years, will lodge a formal complaint against the ship’s owner and captain.  

Though this legal pursuit aims to bring justice for the ocean in this particular accident, case-by-case actions will never be enough to prevent catastrophes of this kind from occurring again. A total revision of maritime transport regulations on a European and international level is mandatory, and Surfrider Europe is leading this charge by launching a public petition to protect our coasts and oceans! 

Onboard Grande America  

Built in 1997, the Grande America was carrying 2200 tons of heavy fuel oil, 365 containers – 45 listed as carrying hazardous materials – and 2000 vehicles when it caught on fire. Due to harsh weather conditions, the ship was ablaze for 48 hours before intervention operations were deployed and the 27 people on board could be evacuated.  

On March 14, two oil spills measuring several kilometers long were identified. It is reported that oil pollution could reach the French Atlantic coastline in the coming days.  

Surfrider Europe launches petition to improve regulation of international shipping

Today Surfrider Europe is calling for your support to sign the petition urging European and international public authorities to secure heightened safety and preventative measures for the maritime transport industry.   

We ask for:  

  • The gradual abandoning of heavy fuel oil for the propulsion of ships in favor of alternative renewable energies 
  • Strengthening international regulations on maritime transport related to the loss of containers (increased transparency and traceability) 
  • Strengthening of controls on the quality of ships in use and prohibiting the navigation of obsolete ships 

Surfrider Europe will present the petition to representatives of the International Maritime Organization at the next meeting in May in London.  

Now more than ever, your participation is needed to support the actions of Surfrider Europe! With each new signature, our chance of creating a significant change in legislation is strengthened. Please take a moment to protect our marine ecosystems from shipping disasters!  

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